How Not To Pack for Europe

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I’ll never forget my first trip abroad!

After mere days of debating, I decided to sign up for a summer semester abroad to London. My boyfriend (now husband) and I had been planning to attend a semester abroad to Greece, but unfortunately we had to cancel our trip that semester. I was devastated to have had to cancel our plans, and before I knew it, a summer abroad for our art department was announced.

“That will be perfect!” I remember thinking before I called my mom and asked her opinion. I don’t recall my parents being to excited about the thought of their little girl heading over seas for an entire summer. Other than my Grandpa during the war, no one in my family had ever left the country. The idea of sending me off somewhere unknown was a bit terrifying not only to them, but to myself as well. I never realized how much I would learn on this trip. I learned watercolor, literature, and a little bit too late- I learned how NOT to pack for Europe.

How NOT to pack for Europe Nessie Out of Water

Before I knew it, I had realized that I knew nothing.

I found myself signing up for the journey and walking nervously into a meet-and-greet with the other students. Though I had seen a few of them before, I normally hung out with the graphic design art majors, and I found myself as one of only two graphic design majors on the trip. I am often very overwhelmed when surrounded by new people, and this was no different. Especially when the teacher announced that, at that very moment, we needed to pick our roommates for the two weeks we would be on campus during the summer. Little did I know that the ladies I would be bunking with for the next three months would grow to be some of the most important people in my story.

My entire closet came with me! Do NOT pack this way.

I remember not having a clue how to pack for an entire summer, but in my mind, I knew I would need everything from my closet. It was a hot, muggy, Arkansas day when mom and I went into JCPenny and purchased a set of hot pink rolling luggage. Inside of the suitcases went everything I could fit.

“The airline allowed this much luggage, so I should take this much.” Boy, was I wrong! Of my two suitcases, one measured in at a solid 50 pounds, the other hit the 25 pound mark. How I managed to even pull them both behind me at once is a mystery. I do take pride in realizing that I was not the only person who struggled with packing.

Pile of Luggage - How Not To Pack For Europe - Nessie Out of Water

Our pile of luggage waiting at the ferry station to head over to England from France. There were only 25 of us. See my giant, hideous pink luggage?

I had a total of 75 lbs of luggage with me.

Stupid! I packed my 10 pound laptop, all my watercolors and paint supplies, the few books required for class, full sized bath products, and t-shirts which screamed ‘TOURIST’. To be honest, I can’t even recall every item I brought. Our flight landed in Paris and I was thrown instantly into a world of uncertainty. “Where is the car to take us where we were staying? What do you mean I have to haul my luggage behind me. We’re walking?” I honestly had no idea what public transportation was or how to get around without a car. Exhausted and overwhelmed, we all followed our professors as they guided us through the labyrinth of the Paris Metro system. We ascended and descended staircase after staircase- every student in my group struggling to carry all their worldly belongings with them up and down, up and down.

Our professors came to a dead stop ahead of us, we all bumped into them like dominos. “Wrong way!” They announced. We all turned around and proceeded to go up and down stair after stair, finally emerging from the underground. We exited into the beautiful city of Paris. I breathed in my first breath of Parisian air, changing my world forever.

Paris Metro Station

Downsizing was the best idea ever!

One month into the trip, our professors decided to organize a mail-back. We were all allowed to return anything we wanted back to Arkansas. Having realized I had severely overpacked, I shoved 50 pounds worth of junk back into my large suitcase and said au reviour to the deadweight. Toting 25 pounds of luggage in a hot pink rolling suitcase was still not idea, however, it was certainly a world of difference for me!

Now when adventure calls, I pack 12lbs of dark clothing and toiletries into my backpack, and off I go! Keep your eyes on in the future for a post on how I pack now!

I learned my packing lesson the hard way. Thanks to this, I can help you know how not to pack for Europe!

Do you have any hilarious travel mistakes you would like to share? Comment below!

My life has been a collage of airlines and exhaustion, and I wouldn't change a thing! I'm a budget traveler, and I adore exploring the world one plane or train ticket at a time!